Archive for the ‘poor’ Category
ROME, JAN. 13, 2012 (Zenit.org).- The 41-year-old bishop of Solwezi in Zambia is entrusted with a diocese stretching some 34,000 square miles (88,300 square kilometers). Scattered over the territory are about 80,000 Catholics. In this rural, poor setting, Bishop Charles Kasonde says his priority is evangelization.
Marie Pauline Meyer of Where God Weeps for Aid to the Church in Need spoke with the bishop, who is the fourth prelate to be charged with the task of overseeing Solwezi since it was declared a diocese in 1976.
Q: You have recently been appointed bishop (March 23, 2010). It this new task difficult?
Bishop Kasonde: Yes and no. It is difficult in knowing that it is a task that I have to perform and it requires a lot of experience. And it is measured by a lot of experience, of which I don’t have a lot. Once you are ordained a priest you remain open to the prompting of the Spirit in your life and also what the Church wants you to do. So we as priests, we have the missionary spirit ready to be sent anywhere and to be given any task; for us it is not a promotion, it is an appointment and we graciously say “yes” to that and we move on. So with that I rely on the grace of God to help me to carry out my activities with the support of the Christians, my brother priests, deacons, bishops and all the fraternity within the Church.
Q: What do you see as your most urgent project at the moment?
Bishop Kasonde: I think this is reflected through my motto, which is “Evangelization of the people of God.” Therefore I’m drawn much more to start projects that concern evangelization of the people, disclosing the love of Christ to the people; let the people encounter Christ. I’m not going to a new diocese; I’m going to a diocese that was founded in 1976. I’m going to a people who have already come into contact with Christ. I’m going there to add to what the people already know. I’m also going to a diocese that is largely rural and quite poor. So infrastructure will be needed. Many churches have been built out of mud and we need concrete churches that stand the test of time. So this is one more reason why I need also to go in that area, so that the people of God can worship the Lord in a house that is beautiful — and they are looking forward to going back to “their home,” the home of God. This is also my preoccupation.
Q: I’ve heard that there are many sects coming to Zambia. Is this something you have encountered?
Bishop Kasonde: My diocese is peculiar in a sense that out of the 10 dioceses it is the only diocese, by and large, which was occupied by the Protestants. Here our brothers and sisters shared greatly in proclaiming the Word of God. Catholicism is a little bit foreign, but slowly it is sinking in and people are getting to know about it and already we have our churches built, though some are very bad structures. Almost in the entire Northwestern province, which covers my canonical area, the population for the province is about 900,000 and the Catholic presence is just about 90,000 — 10% of the entire population. In other places the Catholic population goes, to some extent, even about 70% to 80%, so I have a long way to go.
Q: You say that your diocese is mostly rural and very poor. Are the poor attracted to other churches because they are given food and other needs of daily life?
Bishop Kasonde: Yes. The poor do it not intentionally but because they lack the very basic necessities. When you talk about poverty, it is overwhelming.
Q: Can you describe the poverty?
Bishop Kasonde: Poverty is making less than a dollar a day. They make 50 cents a day — that is all. Some even don’t make that much. So our people struggle a lot and they depend on farm produce. They also depend on the rain because we do not have irrigation systems; only a privileged few have this but the majority depends on the rain. Without the rain there is drought, which means they are unable to purchase their daily needs for their homes as well as tuition money for their children’s school fees. It is a very bad situation but by the grace of God we are surviving and we are happy even in the midst of that poverty.
Bishop Kasonde: They expect me to bring Christ to them; to be one who identifies and lives with them and one who brings them the Good News of the Risen Lord. You look at the people: They are very poor, yet very happy. We share the Word of God together. We pray together. We break bread together through the Eucharistic meal and that is what they want.
Q: When one consults the Internet about Zambia, most often the information one reads is about AIDS and poverty-related problems. Is this how you see it as well?
Bishop Kasonde: I see that but this is not all that is Zambia. Zambia is a peaceful and beautiful country. The media perhaps wants to portray Zambia as such but Zambia is not just poverty, AIDS or corruption. Of course we have these problems but when you walk around you see Zambians who are wealthy, Zambians who are poor. They are cheerful and well versed in what they do. Zambians are moderate and so it is a great mixture.
Bishop Kasonde: AIDS is certainly a big problem in the Sub-Saharan region of Africa and Zambia is part of this region. There is no cure so when one is infected, it spreads. We have seen especially the middle-aged people, the bread winners, the family providers dying from AIDS and the retired, the old, and the feeble — the grandmothers and grandfathers — taking over the role of parenthood again for their orphaned grandchildren, because their children are dying or are dead.
Q: Do you have a solution?
Bishop Kasonde: I think one of the solutions could be investing in education. There was a time when the Catholic Church provided education facilities and then the government took over and “Zambianized” everything, which was a good thing but they became overwhelmed and they couldn’t provide the quality service in education. Now they want to dump this back on the Church, now that the schools are not in good condition and are dilapidated. So the Church is a little bit hesitant but we know that education is a priority. If we want to help our people it is through education because an educated person will suffer less than an illiterate one. Education is the key and empowerment especially for the generation that is growing up; if those are educated they will go and find their own means of sustenance and survival. So this is one area I want to look at — to get back the schools. If we have the money and we invest in them, we could renovate them and attract the teachers who could educate our children.
Q: What is the hope for your country?
Bishop Kasonde: Zambia is very rich in minerals and natural resources. All we need is a leader who is able to interpret the signs of the times; a leader who is able to die a little for his people, a leader who is sincere and honest. We can’t be as poor as we are because everywhere you go you find minerals and we live in a rainy belt. Every season we have the rain, which is why people have not even invested in irrigation because we have enough rain for a season in which to grow crops. The poverty in Zambia is exaggerated. All Zambia needs is a leadership that could command respect and put things in order and we’ll be home and dry.
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This interview was conducted by Marie-Pauline Meyer for “Where God Weeps,” a weekly television and radio show produced by Catholic Radio and Television Network in conjunction with the international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need.
Father Cantalamessa Analyzes Relationship
ROME, OCT. 4, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is the text of a commentary written by Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher of the Pontifical Household, on the relationship between Sts. Francis and Clare.
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It has become commonplace to speak of the friendship between Clare and Francis in terms of falling in love. In his essay “Falling in Love and Loving,” the sociologist F. Alberoni says that “the relationship between St. Clare and St. Francis has all the characteristics of falling in love, sublimated or transferred to the Godhead.”
Francis, like any man even if he is a saint, may well have experienced the attraction of woman and the call of sex. The sources tell us that in order to overcome a temptation of this kind the saint once rolled around in the snow in the depths of winter.
But it was not Clare who was the object of the temptation! When a man and woman are united in God, this bond, if it is authentic, excludes all attraction of an erotic kind, without even a struggle. He or she is, as it were, sheltered. It is another kind of relationship. Between Clare and Francis there was certainly a very strong human bond, but it was paternal or fraternal in kind, not spousal. They were like two trees joined by their foliage, not by their roots.
The extraordinarily profound understanding between Francis and Clare, which features so strongly in the Franciscan epic, does not come from “flesh and blood,” like that between Eloise and Abelard, or Dante and Beatrice (to quote two equally famous examples). If it had done so, it might have left some trace in the literature, but not in the history of sanctity. In one of Goethe’s well-known expressions, we could call the friendship of Francis and Clare an “elective affinity,” as long as we understand “elective” not only in the sense of people who have chosen each other, but who have made the same choice.
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry wrote that “being in love does not mean looking at each other, but looking together in the same direction.” Clare and Francis really didn’t spend their whole lives gazing at each other and feeling good together. They exchanged the fewest of words, probably only those reported in the sources. There was a tremendous reserve between them, so much so that at times the saint was affectionately chided by his brothers for being too harsh with Clare.
Only at the end of his life do we see this rigor in the relationship soften, and Francis visits his “little plant” more and more frequently in search of comfort and confirmation. As death draws near and sickness consumes him, San Damiano becomes his refuge, and it is at her side that he intones the Canticle of Brother Son and Sister Moon, with its praise of “Sister Water,” “useful, humble, precious and chaste,” which might have been written with Clare in mind.
Instead of looking at each other, Clare and Francis looked in the same direction, and we know what “direction” that was in their case. Clare and Francis were like two eyes always looking in the same direction. Two eyes are not just two eyes, I mean, not just one eye repeated. Neither of the two eyes is just an extra or a spare eye. Two eyes looking at an object from different angles give depth and relief to the object, enabling us to enfold it in our gaze. That is how it was for Clare and Francis.
They looked at the same God, the same Lord Jesus, the same crucified one, the same Eucharist, but from different “angles,” each with their own gifts and the sensitivity proper to a man and a woman: masculine and feminine. Together, they understood more than two Francises or two Clares could have done.
Recently, a good television film was made, called “Francis and Clare,” produced by Fabrizio Costa. It will run on Channel 1 of Italian Television (RAI Uno) on Oct. 6 and 7, and will soon be seen on English-language television, as it was originally shot in English. Better than Franco Zeffirelli’s “Brother Sun and Sister Moon,” it manages to avoid the romantic charm of a human love story.
In the past there was often a tendency to present the personality of Clare as too subordinate to that of Francis, exactly like a “sister Moon” who lives in the reflected light of “brother Sun.” The latest example of this is John M. Sweeney’s study “Light in the Dark Age: the Friendship of Francis and Clare of Assisi.”
All the more praiseworthy, then, the fact that the authors of this television fiction have chosen to present Francis and Clare as two parallel lives, interweaving and unfolding synchronically, with equal space given to the one and the other. This has never been done in this form before, and it echoes the sensitivities of today and contemporary efforts to highlight the important presence of women in history. But in this case, it is not a matter of ideological spin, but a portrayal of reality.
Watching the preview of the film “Francis and Clare,” what struck me most was the symbolic opening scene. Francis is walking through a meadow and Clare follows him, almost playfully putting her feet in the footsteps left by Francis. He, asks her: “Are you following in my footsteps?” She replies brightly: “No, much deeper ones.”
Debate Continues Over Euthanasia
By Father John Flynn, L.C.
ROME, SEPT. 24, 2007 (Zenit.org).- The issue of euthanasia came to the forefront of news again recently, with the publication of a note Sept. 14 by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The statement, written in reply to questions sent to the Vatican by U. S. bishops, stipulated that providing nutrition and liquids to people who are in what is often termed the vegetative state is, with rare exceptions, morally obligatory.
After the fierce debate over the 2005 Terri Schiavo case in Florida, news came from Arizona a few months ago about a man who unexpectedly woke up from a coma. Jesse Ramirez suffered brain injuries in a May 30 car crash, reported the Arizona Republic newspaper June 27.
On June 8 his wife, Rebecca, had asked his doctors to remove the tubes providing him with food and water. Jesse’s parents objected and obtained a court order to reconnect the tubes. Subsequently, Jesse suddenly woke up from his coma.
Earlier this year another case was reported, from Denver, Colorado. Christa Lilly had been in coma since the mid-’80s in the wake of a heart attack and stroke. In the past, Lilly had woken up for brief periods, but until this year the last time was on Nov. 4, 2000, reported the Denver Post newspaper March 8.
According to the article, a neurologist from the University of Colorado Hospital, James Kelly, thinks that Lilly might have been in a “minimally conscious state” during these years, as opposed to a persistent vegetative state.
Euthanasia came up for debate in Germany recently, after the announcement by Roger Kusch, ex-justice minister in Hamburg, that he has designed a machine to help people commit suicide.
According to a report in the Sept. 9 edition of the Italian newspaper Il Corriere della Sera, a simple push of a button injects a lethal solution into the terminally ill patient. German federal law prohibits helping someone commit suicide, but does not make illegal the actual act of suicide by the person involved. So with his machine Kusch hopes to avoid any legal difficulties in helping people die.
News of the invention drew immediate criticism, both from politicians and Archbishop Werner Thissen of Hamburg. Kusch is a candidate in Hamburg’s October elections.
Meanwhile, in Switzerland, protests by residents in a Zurich suburb have forced the assisted-suicide group Dignitas out of its premises, according to a July 13 report on the Web site of the German magazine Spiegel Online.
Since 1998, around 700 people have come to the Dignitas center to put an end to their lives. According to the article, the largest group of clients is from Germany, with Britain in second place.
Earlier, in June, the Swiss Senate called on the government to draft a law aimed at improving controls of organizations offering assisted suicide. The National Commission on Biomedical Ethics, a government advisory panel, has also recommended increased state supervision of organizations such as Dignitas.
July also saw a court in the Swiss city of Basel sentence Peter Baumann to three years in prison for having helped three people with psychological problems commit suicide, the agency Swissinfo reported July 6.
Baumann, a retired psychologist, helped the people die between January 2001 and January 2003. According to the court, Baumann acted out of egoistic motives, hoping to obtain public recognition of his methods. The judges, however, defined his conduct as “inhuman,” and criticized his behavior as negligent.
Care, not death
During his trip to Austria, Benedict XVI raised the issue of euthanasia in his Sept. 7 speech to members of government and the diplomatic corps. Saying that the issue was of “great concern” to him, the Pope added that he feared tacit or explicit pressures on the elderly and ill to put an end to their lives.
“The proper response to end-of-life suffering is loving care and accompaniment on the journey toward death — especially with the help of palliative care — and not ‘actively assisted death,'” the Pontiff stated. He also called for reforms in the social welfare and health systems in order to assist people who are terminally ill.
Some of Canada’s bishops also addressed euthanasia earlier this year. In April the Ontario episcopal conference published a brochure titled “Going to the House of the Father: A Statement on the Dignity and Destiny of Human Life.”
“It seems a cruel twist of history that societies with such great medical capabilities are turning against the disabled and sick — with lethal results,” the introduction stated.
The bishops insisted that protecting life is not just a Christian or religious argument, but a basic human right. “To permit the killing of the disabled, frail, sick or suffering, even if motivated by a misplaced compassion, requires a prior judgment that such lives are not worth living,” they said. “No one forfeits the right to life because of illness or disability.”
“Unless the right to life is secure, there can be no sure foundation for any human rights,” they added.
The statement also explained that there is a difference between deliberately causing death and unduly prolonging life. We are not morally obliged, the bishops said, to prolong life if the means used are unduly burdensome or cause additional suffering and when there is little hope of recovery.
The bishops also recommended that Christians not neglect the soul and that they should draw comfort from the mystery of Christ’s death and resurrection. Suffering and death for Christians, they continued, is not only a matter for medicine.
Another source of opposition to euthanasia comes from groups representing disabled people, as the Los Angeles Times reported Aug. 6. According to the article, one of the reasons why legislative proposals to allow medically assisted suicide have failed in California in the past few years is the hostility of the disabled’s rights movement.
A combination of legalized euthanasia and pressure to cut increasing costs in the health care system could lead to the withdrawal of treatment for the disabled. The Los Angeles Times quoted a number of disabled people, active in groups who have fought against assisted-suicide proposals.
“The conditions I have are expensive to treat, and it would be a lot cheaper for the health care system to just let my health go to the point where I would want to die,” said Los Angeles activist Laura Remson Mitchell, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, kidney disease and diabetes.
Other concerns arise from the increasing reluctance by some courts to punish family members who help a sick relative commit suicide. The application of the law in Britain in recent years has been eroded to the point where courts are reluctant to punish those who say they help kill someone out of love, commented Robert Verkaik, law editor for the British newspaper the Independent in an article published May 8.
Among other examples, Verkaik noted a case from October 2006, when a man who helped his terminally ill wife to die was set free with just a nine-month suspended sentence.
Earlier, in March, a French court convicted a doctor for poisoning a terminally ill cancer patient, reported the Associated Press on March 15. In spite of his guilt, the tribunal in southwestern Perigueux sentenced Laurence Tramois to just a one-year suspended prison sentence for his role in the Aug. 25, 2003, death of Paulette Druais in the nearby town of Saint-Astier.
Misguided compassion seems destined to lead to the deaths of still more people as pressures to ease restrictions on assisted suicide continue.
Father Kolodiejchuk on Joy in Suffering
ROME, SEPT. 5, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Without suffering, our work would just be social work, not the work of Jesus Christ, not part of the redemption, said Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
The founder of the Missionaries of Charity expressed this in a letter written to a spiritual director, now published with many others letters in a volume titled “Come Be My Light,” edited and presented by Father Brian Kolodiejchuk.
In this interview with ZENIT, Father Kolodiejchuk, a Missionary of Charity priest and the postulator for the cause of canonization of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, discusses his new book and the interior life Mother Teresa kept hidden from the world.
Part 1 of this interview was published Tuesday.
Q: The name of the book, “Come Be My Light,” was a request Jesus made to Mother Teresa. How did her redemptive suffering for others in such extreme darkness connect with her particular charism?
Father Kolodiejchuk: During the 1950s, Mother surrendered and accepted the darkness. Father Neuner [one of her spiritual directors] helped her to understand it by linking the darkness with her charism, of satiating Jesus’ thirst.
She used to say that the greatest poverty was to feel unloved, unwanted, uncared for, and that’s exactly what she was experiencing in her relationship with Jesus.
Her reparatory suffering, or suffering for others, was part of her living her charism for the poorest of the poor.
So for her, the suffering was not only to identify with the physical and material poverty, but even on the interior level, she identified with the unloved, the lonely, the rejected.
She gave up her own interior light for those living in darkness, saying, “I know this is only feelings.”
In one letter to Jesus, she wrote: “Jesus hear My prayer — if this pleases You — If my pain and suffering — my darkness and separation gives You a drop of Consolation — My own Jesus do with me as You wish — as long as You wish without a single glance at my feelings and Pain.
“I am your own. Imprint on my soul and life the sufferings of Your heart. Don’t mind my feelings — Don’t mind even, my pain.
“If my separation from You, brings others to You and in their love and company — you find joy and pleasure — why Jesus, I am willing with all my heart to suffer all that I suffer — not only now, but for all eternity, if this was possible.”
In a letter to her sisters, she makes the charism of the order more explicit, saying: “My dear children, without suffering, our work would just be social work, very good and helpful, but it would not be the work of Jesus Christ, not part of the redemption — Jesus wanted to help us by sharing our life, our loneliness, our agony and death.
“All that He has taken upon Himself, and has carried it in the darkest night. Only by being one with us He has redeemed up.
“We are allowed to do the same: All the desolation of Poor people, not only their Material poverty, but their spiritual destitution must be redeemed and we must have our share in it, pray thus when you find it hard — ‘I wish to live in this world which is far from God, which has turned so much from the light of Jesus, to help them — to take upon me something of their suffering.'”
And that captures what I consider her mission statement: “If I ever become a Saint — I will surely be one of ‘darkness.’ I will continually be absent from Heaven — to [light] the light of those in darkness on earth…”
This is how she understood her darkness. A lot of the things she said make more sense and have a much deeper meaning now that we know these things.
Q: So what do you say to those who call her experience a crisis of faith, that she didn’t really believe in God, or somehow imply that her darkness was a sign of psychological instability?
Father Kolodiejchuk: It wasn’t a crisis of faith, or that she lacked faith, but that she had a trial of faith where she experienced the feeling that she did not believe in God.
This trial required a lot of human maturity, otherwise she wouldn’t have been able to do it. She would have become unbalanced.
As Father Garrigou-Lagrange said, it is possible to have seemingly contradictory feelings at the same time.
It is possible to have “objective Christian joy,” as Carol Zaleski called it, while at the same time going through the trial or feeling of having no faith.
There are not two people here, but one person with feelings on different levels.
We can really be living the cross in someway — it is painful, and it hurts, and just because we can spiritualize it does not take way the pain, but one can be joyful because one is living with Jesus. And that is not false.
This is how and why Mother lived a life so full of joy.
Q: As the postulator of her cause for canonization, when do you think we might be able to call her St. Teresa of Calcutta?
Father Kolodiejchuk: We need one more miracle — we have looked at a few, but none has been clear enough. There was one for beatification but we are waiting for the second.
Perhaps God has been waiting for the book to come out first, because people knew that Mother Teresa was holy but because of her ordinariness and simplicity of expression, they did not have an understanding of how holy.
I heard about two priests talking the other day. One said he was never a big fan of Mother Teresa because he thought she was just pious, devout, and did nice, admirable works, but then when he heard about her interior life, it changed everything for him.
Now we have more of an idea how developed she was spiritually, and now something of her deeper characteristics are being revealed.
Once the miracle comes in, it could take a couple of years, although the Pope could do it faster if he wanted to.
Q: What has happened to the order since Mother’s death?
Father Kolodiejchuk: The order has grown by almost 1,000 sisters, from around 3,850 at her death to 4,800 today, and we’ve added over 150 houses in 14 more countries.
God’s work goes on.